Golden Anniversary of Hawaii's Great Statehood Petition of 1954 – 120,000 Signatures

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“Kenneth Conklin Image”

On Feb. 24, 1954, a petition containing
120,000 signatures left Hawaii for Washington D.C. on
a UAL Stratocruiser. “We, the undersigned people of
Hawaii, hereby petition the Congress of the United
States to act favorably on Statehood for Hawaii now.”


Fifty years later one wonders whether the
Governor has the political courage to organize any
celebration of the Statehood Day (Admission Day)

The first day for signing was Feb. 10 in
Honolulu. A huge roll of newsprint was partly
unrolled down the middle of Bishop Street the entire
long block from Hotel to King. People lined up many
rows deep on both sides, all day, waiting to sign what
was then called the “Honor Roll.” Bricks placed on the
paper kept it from blowing and were used as
stepping-stones. When fully unrolled the main segment
had signatures running more than a mile. Segments of newsprint, and additional legal-size pages with lines for 32 signatures, were circulated throughout the islands. Some additional signatures were obtained as the plane made stops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Denver.

”’The Honolulu Advertiser”’ published articles and photos
every day. One especially memorable photo of an
elderly man signing the petition has the caption:
“Jack Paoakalani Heleluke, 74, retired member of the
Royal Hawaiian Band who was born under the reign of
King Kalakaua. Under his name he wrote ‘100 per cent Hawaiian.’ ”

On Feb. 24 the 250 pound petition was wrapped
and taken to the steps of Iolani Palace for a
ceremonial sendoff including the Hawaiian civic clubs presenting chants, songs, hula, kahili and torch bearers. A heavenly blessing was also provided (rain).

In Washington the petition was delivered to the
Senate office of Vice President Nixon as an official
document held on display for members of Congress.
Later it went to the National Archives where it now
rests on a cradle in stack area 8e2a of the National
Archives Building.

The Great Statehood Petition of 1954 was a proud
chapter in Hawaii’s 110 year struggle to achieve
Statehood. In 1849 King Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III,
responding to pressures from Britain and France,
prepared a provisional deed to cede the Kingdom of
Hawaii to the United States, and gave it to the
United States Commissioner, but it was never
implemented because the pressures abated. In 1854
the same king signed an order directing his Minister
of Foreign Relations to take steps to ascertain the
views of the United States regarding annexation of the
Hawaiian islands and the terms and conditions under
which such annexation could be obtained, and a treaty
was drafted by the Hawaiian government in August, 1854 providing for the admission of Hawaii into the United States with the status of full statehood, but during informal negotiations the United States did not agree. Over the next 105 years there were dozens of attempts to achieve statehood, which finally succeeded in 1959.

A Web page has been created to commemorate